Nightwish - Once 5/5

Reviewed: 9-10-04


1. Dark chest of wonders
2. Wish I had an angel
3. Nemo
4. Planet hell
5. Creek Mary's blood
6. The siren
7. Dead gardens
8. Romanticide
9. Ghost love score
10. Kuolema tekee taiteilijan
11. Higher than hope

When a band is fortunate enough to reach fame and success, they are usually faced with 2 possible choices (or paths) to follow. The first path would be to use their present fame as a way to sell future releases, knowing that fans will buy their CDs no matter what the quality or what effort was put into them. I won't reference to any bands that have chosen this path, as I don't see the point in doing so, but you know who you are. The 2nd path would be to use their new found fame (and income of course) as an opportunity to rise above others in their genre, and even themselves. I've seen this strong effort recently from Kamelot, Rhapsody and Iron Maiden. Nightwish (thankfully) has also chosen this 2nd path. When I first heard Nightwish back in 1998, I was literally floored by the amazing music I was hearing. Even today, Nightwish continues to amaze me and has always been one of my favorite bands.

'Once' is definitely a tremendous release from the band. Track 1 "Dark chest of wonders" gets right into some strong guitars and orchestration. This is an exciting start, and it's a relief to hear they haven't changed their sound too much from their previous CDs. Tarja Turunen's familiar voice is probably a big reason for this. We get some male vocals from Marco Hietala to start us off with track 2 "Wish I had an angel". This aggressive song has an unusual beat (not a typical power metal beat), but still makes for a very good and interesting song. I'm just glad that this is the only song done in this style. Track 3 "Nemo" slows down with some piano parts and Tarja's pleasant vocals, and is overall a mid-paced song. Track 4 "Planet hell" begins with a typical Nightwish epic start, then the awesome guitars and strong orchestral arrangements are quickly added. Track 5 "Creek Mary's blood" is a very unique song, as it's more of a slow atmospheric song with some unusual chanting, but it has an excellent guitar solo in the middle and ends up being something fresh from the band. Very strong riffs start out track 6 "The siren", and Tarja's voice soars wonderfully! There's a lot of tempo changes present on this CD, as many times the songs will pick up with enormous guitar strength, as heard on this song. Track 7 "Dead gardens" is a very crunchy guitar-driven song that smooths out when Tarja sings the outstanding chorus. We continue the heavy sound with track 8 "Romanticide", where the deeper male vocals are heard again. Track 9 "Ghost love score" is probably my favorite song on the CD! There's tons of orchestration, almost sounding like an epic film score. The song has a sensational guitar solo and a fantastic chorus that reminds us just how special Tarja really is. Magnificent song! Their typical slow song hits us at track 10 "Kuolema tekee taiteilijan", and it leads to the mid-paced "Higher than hope" that finishes off the CD with the consistent power heard throughout.

Although the production on this CD is awesome, the guitars are powerful, the orchestration is unbelievable and Tarja's beautiful vocals are as great as ever, the band has slowed down the pace a bit (when compared to their earlier releases) and intermixed keyboards aren't heard as much either. So their sound is a little different than what we've gotten used to, but I've found myself hooked to this new sound. I don't know if this is my favorite Nightwish CD, but the potential is certainly there. Only time will tell how this CD will rank in the Nightwish collection, but I'm loving it at the moment. Today I'm very happy to be a power metal fan!




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